Critique of two articles by Worker’s Struggle

This week I was asked by a member of Worker’s Struggle to review some of their work. It has been a busy week with my present job, but I was happy to take a look. I don’t know much about the group, but their page seems to have some opinions on the direction of the workers movement, a few poems and statements of solidarity with a few workers struggles, as well as some submissions by workers. I’m going to comment on a couple of their theoretical articles in particular, “Our 6 principles” and “Class Autonomy

First, I don’t agree with the choice of words “autonomy.” I believe the word is weak and it is something that does not resonate with workers. I think that a more precise, and a more powerful word that resonates with all workers in North America is “Independent.” All American workers understand what “Independent” is and the definition itself is far deeper in my opinion than “autonomy.”

Look up the definitions on both, (which is a popular dictionary service), and I think you will understand what I mean.

noun, plural autonomies.


independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions:

the autonomy of the individual.


the condition of being autonomous; self-government or the right of self-government:

The rebels demanded autonomy from Spain.


a self-governing community.




not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself:

an independent thinker.


not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free:

an independent businessman.


not influenced by the thought or action of others:

independent research.


not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.


not relying on another or others for aid or support.


rejecting others’ aid or support; refusing to be under obligation to others.


possessing a competency:

to be financially independent.


I want to put this important issue at the beginning of my response because there is a trend within the so called “left” to “beat around the bush,” and to not talk about things as clearly and directly as possible with workers. I am not sure if this is an academic influence, which would be a petite bourgeois influence, but the bottom line is that it confuses workers and it disrespects the little time and attention they have available.

Second, while it is true that capitalists and managers meet privately from workers, they also meet publicly and often with workers and union leaders to advance the interests of capital as “partners” or “teammates.”

The article “Class Autonomy” says that the interests between workers and their employers is “antagonistic,” but its more than just antagonistic. Someone’s relationship with their friends and relatives may be be antagonistic–but the interests between workers and capitalists is DIAMETIRICALY OPPOSED.

The article “Class Autonomy” Workers Struggle suggests that workers can meet without “these outside antagonistic interests present,” but that is simply not true. The class interests of the working class and the capitalist class are everywhere and the struggle takes place within each and every one of us.

It is an underlying contradiction within all of humanity at present. Even when workers meet independently, at the cafe, or the bar, even to meet to discuss their next steps against an employer or their union misleaders–those conflicting interests that polarize all of society are present.

Some workers will have politics that more closely align with the interests of the working class and the oppressed masses, and others who may have backwards prejudices or petite bourgeois influence, will be more closely aligned with the interests of the capitalists. It doesn’t make all of these more backwards workers enemies, but it is simply the reality of uneven consciousness.

Third, while criticism of the politicians and non profits and opportunists is well and good, Workers Struggle writes, “For far too long, we as workers and laborers have repeatedly been guided by outside interests and represented at the table by non-workers.”

The only non-workers that represent workers at a bargaining table is the labor aristocracy, the corrupt, opportunist union officials primarily concerned with feathering their own nests (And far too often, the labor aristocracy is not representing workers the table, but only providing the illusion of representation). Workers are not represented by any of these other representatives of the bourgeoisie listed (non profit leaders, bourgeois politicians, etc)

Fourth, class consciousness requires more than just class enmity. Consciousness requires not only an understanding of class interest (which wasn’t said in the article unfortunately–but it is organizing the class for its own interests to overthrow the capitalist class and take power). Consciousness requires an understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses, where one has been and where one intends to go–and the strengths and weaknesses of the other classes and their interests. Workers are interested in better understanding how the classes interact with and influence each other.

Fifth, I’m not sure if I’m agreement with all of “Our 6 principles” as principles, attached are some principles I have come up with. But I’ve noticed some problems with the page “Our 6 principles.”

In the article Worker’s Struggle writes, “We must never be satisfied,” but this implies that there will never be any victory-which is false. Great satisfaction and peace of mind will come with complete control over society as a class. Workers need to know that victory is possible, it is inevitable, and it will be sweet.

Workers Struggle writes, “There is no way to win by cooperating with the enemy,” which I’m not quite sure I understand. In the course of struggle, there will be times of tactical necessity to use counterposing interests and contradictions between the capitalists to the advantage of workers. There are plenty of examples from various uprisings and the few great revolutions in the past.

In such a situation, these tactical decisions will be made based on costs and benefits to the workers struggle for power. Such a tactical decision will likely be labled “cooperating with the enemy,” but the need to organize workers and to tell the the truth, to be frank about the interests of the bourgeois forces shouldn’t be compromised. The decision making and thinking behind this

kind of maneuver should be transparent and open.

Workers Struggle makes only “Internal Democracy” a principle, but “internal democracy” is not a principle that serves to advance the interests of workers–The workers demand democracy everywhere as much as possible. They need it in their organizations, the unions, their caucuses, their workplaces, their future political organizations. And what will they use to gauge whether or not

they have something sufficient to be called “democratic”? They need freedom of speech and freedom to organize and minorities and oppressed sections of the class need freedom of speech and freedom to organize–and political work must remain as transparent as possible so that opportunists and class traitors can be exposed.

Lastly, there is a line by Workers Struggle I am uncomfortable with which is,

“The working class must lead, self-manage and control its own struggle, and not be led by capitalist proxies (establishment unions that collaborate with management, NGOs, politicians, legalistic means). Even if we use those entities in specific situations as we build our capacity, like bringing in unions or lawyers, they must be under the control of autonomous workers organizations.”

There is a long history within “the left” of twisting itself into all different kinds of knots to justify “bringing in” opportunists with the illusion that they are under control. The truth of the matter is that most of the time they won’t be under control and workers need to be aware of that. You’re lying to yourself if you think otherwise. And choosing to work with an NGO or a union leader requires a high degree of care so as not to undermine the workers movement and advancement. I mentioned earlier that there may be times of tactical necessity to use counterposing interests and contradictions between rival capitalists–but such decision making must be transparent and democratic–it requires the caution of a handler of dangerous snakes. And one more thing, I don’t agree lumping “establishment unions that collaborate with management” in with “NGOs, politicians, legalistic means” in this paragraph.

The establishment unions, regardless of their corruption are embryonic workers organizations. The strategy to fight within these organizations for control is not the same at all as say some struggle to “push” an NGO or some liberal political campaign. Unlike the NGOs, the fight against the labor bureaucracy is the front lines in the fight over the economic struggle of workers, and it is within these organizations against the labor aristocracy that the class lines of demarcation become more difficult to clarify, but it is the job of workers advocates to aid in that clarification

It is my hope that Workers Struggle will take some of my thoughts into consideration as they begin to iron out their objectives and goals (which don’t seem clear quite yet).


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